Off the Grid: Sally breaks down USA TODAY's daily crossword puzzle, The Price Is Right

There are spoilers ahead. You might want to solve today's puzzle before reading further! The Price Is Right

Constructor: Glenn Cook

Editor: Anna Gundlach

June 20, 2024
June 20, 2024

What I Learned from Today’s Puzzle

  • ANIME (64A: "Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!," e.g.) Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! is a manga (graphic novel originating in Japan) series by Sumito Ōwara. It has been adapted into an ANIME TV series and a live-action TV series, as well as a live-action movie. Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! is new to me, but I think the concept of the show is clever. This is an ANIME about several high school students who are interested in making ANIME. They form a school club, and Eizouken is the name of the club. The New York Times named this "ANIME about ANIME" to their "Best TV Shows of 2020" list.

Random Thoughts & Interesting Things

  • MALI (1A: Landlocked African country) In case this clue made you wonder just how many landlocked African countries there are, I will tell you. Sixteen of Africa's 55 countries are landlocked. Those countries are MALI, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Eswatini, and Lesotho. Of those countries, MALI and Chad are the only ones whose names are 4-letter words, and crossing answers reveal that MALI is the answer here. MALI is located in West Africa. The capital of MALI is Bamako.

  • HEISTS (20A: Carefully planned art thefts) A couple of weeks ago, while in Boston, Massachusetts with friends, I visited the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. It's a fascinating and beautiful place, and definitely worth a visit. The museum is also the site of the largest art HEIST in the world. In 1990, thirteen works of art were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and they have never been recovered. In the museum, empty frames mark the places were the stolen artwork used to be. If you're interested in learning more about this HEIST, I recommend the four-part Netflix documentary about it titled, This Is a Robbery: The World's Biggest Art HEIST.

Empty Frame at Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Empty Frame at Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
  • DOT (21A: Symbol in an email address) and AT SIGN (22A: Symbol in an email address) This is a fun pairing of these two consecutive answers. By the way, if you ever want to email me, my email address is SHoelscher(AT SIGN)gannett(DOT)com. I'm always delighted to hear from readers. (By the way, you can always access my email address by clicking on my name in the byline and then clicking on the envelope symbol under my photo.)

  • EMU (33A: Australian beer brand named for a bird) EMU beer was originally brewed by EMU Brewery in Perth, Australia in 1908. The brand has been sold multiple times since then, and is now owned by alcoholic beverage company Lion. I bet you can guess what animal is featured on the label of EMU beer.

  • ETHAN (43A: Actor Hawke) ETHAN Hawke's breakthrough movie role was his portrayal of one of the students (Todd) in Dead Poets Society (1989). ETHAN Hawke's most recent movie role was Clay Sandford in the apocalyptic thriller Leave the World Behind (2023).

  • TITO (48A: Second-oldest member of the Jackson 5) The Jackson 5 – a pop group composed of members of the Jackson family – was formed in 1964 in Gary, Indiana. The original members of the Jackson 5 (in age order) were Jackie, TITO, Jermaine, Marlon, and Michael.

  • SAM-I-AM (54A: "Green Eggs and Ham" protagonist) "I would not like them here or there. I would not like them anywhere. I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them SAM-I-AM."

  • CAPS (57A: FEATURE OF THESE LETTERS) Clues like this always make me smile.

  • MLS (1D: Portland Timbers org.) The Portland Timbers are an Oregon-based team in Major League Soccer (MLS). The Timbers joined MLS as an expansion team in 2011. The abbreviation of the word organization in the clue alerts solvers that the answer will be an abbreviation.

  • LAO (3D: Southeast Asian language) The LAO language is spoken by the LAO people, and is the official language of Laos. LAO is also spoken in northeast Thailand. On the subject of landlocked countries, Laos is the only landlocked country in Southeast Asia.

  • ITCHIEST (4D: Most irritating, like a wool sweater) Wool sweaters definitely have a reputation for being the ITCHIEST. However, as someone who wears wool clothing nearly every day, I feel the need to clarify that not all wool is itchy. The itchiness of a piece of wool clothing is related to the thickness of the wool fibers. The thicker the wool fibers, the itchier the wool will be. Thinner wool fibers, such as Merino wool (from Merino sheep), is naturally soft, and tends not to itch.

  • DIE (12D: Twenty-sided RPG piece) Three days ago we saw a d12 – a 12-sided DIE – referenced in a clue. A twenty-sided DIE is referred to as a d20. A d20 is an icosahedron, and each side of the DIE is an equilateral triangle.

  • APP (22D: Zelle or Venmo) Zelle and Venmo are mobile payment APPs that allow users to transfer money to each other.

  • LAWNS (30D: Places to play jarts and cornhole) Having lived through the 1980s, my first thought upon reading this clue was, "Wait, weren't jarts banned?" Jarts are LAWN darts. Players throw them in an attempt to land them within a small plastic hoop target. Although the originally-manufactured jarts weren't particularly sharp, they were weighted, and following multiple reports of injuries and fatalities, the game was banned in the United States and Canada. It appears that there are updated (presumably safer) versions of jarts currently on the market. Cornhole is a game with a similar concept of tossing items at a target, but the items to be tossed are beanbags, and the target is a board with a hole in it.

  • TOAD (39D: Mario character with a mushroom head) Just yesterday we saw TOAD, a character from the Mario franchise of video games, referenced in a clue. In most games, TOAD is a non-player character who provides assistance to Mario and his friends.

  • SPICES (47D: Mace and nutmeg) The nutmeg is an evergreen tree. The SPICE called nutmeg is obtained by grinding the tree's dried seeds (which are brown) into a powder. The SPICE called mace is made from the reddish aril, or seed covering, of the nutmeg seed. Mace and nutmeg have similar flavor profiles, though Mace tends to have a more delicate flavor.

  • MEME (56D: The "this is fine" dog, for one) You've likely seen this MEME. It depicts a cartoon dog sitting in a house on fire and saying, "this is fine." The dog first appeared in KC Green's 2013 webcomic, "On Fire." Since that time, the "this is fine" dog has been used in a variety of MEMEs to indicate an inability to grasp the severity of a situation.

Crossword Puzzle Theme Synopsis

  • SHOCK VALUE (17A: Potential to cause outrage)

  • BUT AT WHAT COST (38A: "...was it worth it, though?")

  • TAKE CHARGE (59A: Seize control of a situation)

The word on the RIGHT side of each theme answer is a synonym for the word PRICE. In other words, THE PRICE IS RIGHT: VALUE, COST, CHARGE.

THE PRICE IS RIGHT is, of course, a classic game show. It first aired in 1972, and Bob Barker was the host of the show for its first 35 years. Today THE PRICE IS RIGHT is the theme of the puzzle, with the word "RIGHT" giving us a hint about where to look for the puzzle's theme. I enjoyed this set of theme answers. Thank you, Glenn, for this excellent puzzle.

For more on USA TODAY’s Crossword Puzzles

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Crossword Blog & Answers for June 20, 2024 by Sally Hoelscher